Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection

By Gerald M. Edelman | Go to book overview

3
Neuronal Group Selection

A posteriori nature of selected information 43 · Population thinking 44 · Major tenets of the theory of neuronal group selection 45 · Initial definition of a group 46 · Repertoire size, range, and specificity 47 · Degeneracy 49 · A simple model, Darwin I 51 · Sites and levels of neuronal variation 57 · Introduction to the idea of reentry 60 · Confronting the crises of information processing 65 · Adaptive value of somatic selection 67


INTRODUCTION

In the preceding chapter, I attempted to show that information processing or instructionist models fail to account satisfactorily for a variety of anatomical, physiological, and psychological findings. At one stage or another of such models, one sees evidence of typological thinking or essentialism -- the positing of prior categories either in the environment or in the brain or in both. The chief difficulty of information processing models is their inability to remove the homunculus (or his relatives) from the brain. Who or what decides what is information? How and where are "programs" constructed capable of context-dependent pattern recognition in situations never before encountered? Processors of information must have information defined for them a priori, just as the Shannon measure of information (see Pierce 1961) must specify a priori an agreed-upon code as well as a means of estimating the probability of receiving any given signal under that code. But such information can be defined only a posteriori by an organism (i.e., the categories of received signals can be defined only after the signals have been re-

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